Travelocity Business(SM) Offers Insight to Help Travelers Avoid Flight Delays as Report Shows Decline in Airline On-Time Performance
Former FAA Command Center Air Traffic Management Specialist Rally Caparas Equips Business Travelers With the Know-How on Avoiding Delays, Congested Airports, and Missed Flights
Mar 18, 2004
Travelers experienced a 64 percent decline in airline on-time arrival this January compared to the same month in 2003, according to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The report showed that on-time performance went from 83.4 percent in January last year, to 74.9 percent this January. And while carrier delays and late flights most affected on-time performance, weather conditions played a much larger role in delays than one might think upon an initial glance at the report's numbers.
As business travelers start planning trips during the coming spring storm season, Travelocity Business(SM) correspondent and former FAA air traffic controller Rally Caparas offers vital tips on avoiding the time crunch with flight delays, airport congestion and missed flight connections.
According to Caparas, "If you look at the surface data, it appears that weather directly accounted for only 6 to 7 percent of flight delays, but before travelers get upset with their airlines or the FAA, it's important to note that weather plays a role in about 80 percent of traveler delays. As we head into the spring storm season, travelers may want to consider how they can plan trips to avoid these potential delays."
Caparas' checklist for some of the best suggested ways to avoid potential flight delays are based on timing:
-- When traveling into or out of the East or Gulf Coasts of the United States, especially between March 15th and October 15th, schedule flights to depart out of, or arrive into these regions before 1:00 p.m. local time. -- This helps avoid most of the severe thunderstorm activity, peak periods of air traffic volume and associated lengthy delays. -- When traveling out of or into the West Coast airports (from Seattle through San Diego), schedule flights to depart from or arrive into the region after 1:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. -- The marine layer fog, which is an almost daily event, causes reduced visibility at the airports and frequently results in flight delays. -- The fog usually dissipates by about 1:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time each day.
The occurrence of flight delays can be explained by how the FAA uses the National Airspace System to monitor and control flight traffic at 40 top airports, says Caparas. These facilities represent a fraction of all airports, but the vast majority of commercial flights either originates at, or goes through, these major "hubs". Each airport has a pre-determined maximum arrival and departure rate during ideal conditions. When the weather becomes poor, or the runway configurations are forced to change based on wind direction, a runway closed for maintenance, or aircraft emergencies, the FAA must implement some sort of delay program to control the flow of air traffic, minimizing the impact of these events on a particular airport.
In addition to knowing the pitfalls for delays, Caparas emphasizes that business travelers with time constraints can make other smart choices to help make their travel as efficient and easy as possible. Some of these tips include:
-- Schedule flights into and out of alternative local or smaller airports that are less congested with people and traffic such as Burbank in Los Angeles, Midway Airport in Chicago, or Hartford Airport instead of Boston Logan. -- If "time is money", purchase a non-stop ticket. Every time you land or depart during a trip, you significantly increase the odds of being delayed. -- If you do schedule flights other than non-stop, avoid scheduling very tight connections as a slight delay on one leg could cost more lost time and cause hassles associated with a missed connection.
Rally Caparas delivers updated flight delay information at www.TravelocityBusiness.com . As an air traffic management specialist and daily CNN correspondent out of Atlanta with his "Eye on The Sky" program, Caparas is the country's leading source for analysis and news content regarding aviation-related incidents, airline events and travel advice. His experience includes 13 years as an FAA air traffic controller in numerous areas of the country, and he designed and managed the national air traffic delay programs for the FAA and the airlines, while serving as an Air Traffic Management Specialist at the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center near Washington, D.C.
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Travelocity Business merges the expertise, service and travel choices of Travelocity(R) with the most proven online corporate travel technology, already used by more than half of the Fortune 200. For more information, companies can visit www.TravelocityBusiness.com .
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